So, as usual, I am wondering, how inadequate is our immigration system? I find this very interesting summary, it clarifies, fairly succinctly, how incredibly broken our system is in America, especially for unskilled workers. I won’t spoil the ending, but remember this number, 147, it will astound you when you realize what it represents.
But even if Congress were willing to expend the necessary funds to upgrade systems and supply the manpower needed to expedite the millions of applications already in the queue and awaiting processing, the major flaws in immigration policy would still exist.
Flaws codified into law that almost ensure that for the vast majority of would-be immigrants there is simply no legal path to take.
Here is where that number – 147 – comes into play, and why I asked that it be kept in the back of the mind.
I few weeks ago the annual Yearbook of immigration statistics from the Department of Homeland security came out listing every green card, work visa, tourist visa etc. issued for the past year. It’s about as dry and boring a report as one could managed to muddle through …but it supplies invaluable insight into what is really going on with the dysfunctional immigration system.
In 2006 the government issued a little over 1.2 million green cards to new immigrants to live in the US legally. Additionally, 1.7 million more non-immigrant visas were issued to temporary workers and their family members to work in the US (1/2 million more than the number of green cards issued to new permanent residents, a troubling statistic unto itself).
So at face value it appears that there is amble opportunity for those wishing to enter the country permanently to do so legally. But as Mark Twain said there are three kinds of lies “lies, damn lies, and statistics” ..and in this case one must delve into the numbers to see what story they really tell.
Of the 1.2 million green cards issued last year, 581,106 of those went to wives, children and parents of current US citizens. And additional 222,225 went to various other family members of citizens and legal residents, for a total of 2/3 of all green cards going to someone who already had a US citizen or resident relative.
The next largest category of immigrants after the “family based” status were those who entered as “employment based immigrants”. 159,081 immigrants were awarded green cards last year to legally work in the US. ( 12.6% of all immigrants). The vast majority of them being immigrants with high skills, “specialty skills” “extraordinary skills” or “advanced degrees”.
This is codified into the system.
The yearly cap on unskilled workers is placed at a 5000 maximum. This despite the fact that according to the Dept. of Labor, the US economy produces between 400,000 and 500,000 new low-skilled jobs a year and the vast majority of the nearly Â½ mil unauthorized workers who enter the country each year find work in these unskilled sectors.
But as unrealistic as the 5000 cap appears, the situation is actually far worse.
Last year the total number of unskilled workers allowed into the US legally was roughly half the official cap: 2513. Out of nearly 3 million people allowed to enter the country either as temporary workers or stay as legal residents, only 2513 were unskilled workers.
But here comes that number I asked you to keep in the back of your mind ….remember it 147?…
Of the 2513 unskilled workers allotted green cards last year, 2366 were already here living and working in the US. They simply “readjusted” their status to permanent residents (most likely from some temporary worker status) …that leaves 147
147 new un-skilled workers without US citizen or legal resident family already here were allowed to enter the US last year legally and receive green cards.
147 out of 1,266,264.
147 …so tell me again how there is a legal path for all who are willing to work and wait patiently.
How long is one expected to wait… because if the ½ a million who enter each year through improper channels were to go home and wait patiently for their turn, it would take over 3000 years before they would get that chance when only 147 are allowed in each a year.
But the rhetoric will most likely continue, despite all factual evidence to the contrary. Lou Dobbs will nightly inform his minion that only the shiftless and slovenly disregard the law. O’Rielly will bluster away how he “respects and supports” those who “do it the right way” and Rush will whine that reform isn’t fair to all those “waiting in line”…But disingenuous blowhards and misleading experts cannot change the truth, or hide the facts. The current immigration laws, and the systems in place to enforce them, are woefully inadequate and all the wall building, workplace raids, deporting and incarcerating will not change that fact…and until they are addressed rationally and reasonably the “immigration crisis” will never end.